By Dean Whittaker

The closing session at this year’s International Economic Development Council meeting was a panel discussion with a group of Site Location Consultants. The panelists discussed trends they observed and concluded with a “wish list” of what economic development folks could do better.

A few takeaways from the session:

  • Projects are NOT being put on hold due to the election cycle as has been the pattern in the past;
  • A skilled workforce is the top priority of every project followed by the availability of an existing building;
  • Site selection consultants work on 30-40% of all projects, and therefore, websites need to be designed with as much data rich content as possible for the 60-70% of projects that don’t use a consultant;
  • “Prove it” was an often stated comment when making claims;
  • Keep in touch, they do like hearing from EDOs periodically (but not too often);
  • Keep them informed on new developments that are pertinent to their work i.e. location announcements, business closing (labor availability), etc.

Overall, the 1,500 attendees represented a broad cross-section of the country with a few international representatives. It was the most diverse group that I have seen at an IEDC event, and I felt it added perspectives of inclusion and equity to many of the panel discussions. The 2017 Annual conference is scheduled to be held in Toronto.